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Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles men's basketball preview: Is EMU trending better than KSU?

What has gotten into this world? Kent looked like a possible contender for the MAC while EMU struggled and now the roles are slowly flipping.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

EMU is trending up the last week and a half while Kent has struggled a bit since losing Xavier Pollard to injury (a fractured foot D:). Though KSU comes in having won its last game even in the absence of some key pieces, it might be in a bit of trouble in Ypsi.

Eastern Michigan Eagles

An 80-70 loss to Buffalo a week ago doesn't look so bad in the context of the Bulls recent win streak. That was sandwiched between a nice shellacking of Miami and a surprisingly easy win over Central Michigan. And if you'll remember, Raven Lee put up possibly the best performance of a MAC basketballer this season in the Miami win.

He then proceeded to play 22 minutes and score just 8 points in the CMU win. Here's another example of Lee not seeing that many minutes because Rob Murphy doesn't like what Lee brings defensively (so says HB EIC and EMU fanboy Alex Alvarado).

The duo of James Thompson and Brandon Nazione overwhelmed the Chippewa frontcourt on their way to a 15-point win to move to 4-7 in the MAC. It wouldn't be absurd to expect EMU guards Lee, Ty Toney and Willie Mangum clean up in this home win while Kent still tries to recover from injuries.

Though there's not much consistency in terms of where the guard production is going to come from, I'm going to venture to say EMU has a good say Saturday.

Kent State Golden Flashes

The Flashes are really struggling at the guard position with Pollard and Jaylin Walker out (Walker has a sprained foot). It's a lot for Kellon Thomas and a group of others to manage. Galal Cancer to step up in the NIU win, though he did turn the ball over five times. It was Khaliq Spicer that led a Flashes frontcourt that easily outrebounded the Huskies in the home win.

The backcourt really struggled to get going in losses to Ohio, Central Michigan and Toledo. Deon Edwin did put up a nice effort in the loss to the Rockets but otherwise the guards just couldn't get going in the other losses.

The success of the guard trio of Thomas, Edwin and Cancer could be the factor to pay attention to in this game. Then again, it has been bigs like Hall, Spicer and Ortiz who have been called on to produce the last few weeks. But it sure doesn't help when KSU is 11th in the MAC In FG percentage defense when it is already lacking several of its better offensive producers. Given the Flashes' ability to grab offensive boards, watch for that as well against the MAC's best rebounder, James Thompson.

Just note, KSU is still 7-4 and is by no means in bad shape overall. The squad still has time before the conference tournament for support guys off the bench have time to assert themselves into a new role at an important time.